Hong Kong athletes deserve more help and respect

August 17, 2016 09:42
For years, the lack of combat experience has put our athletes at a disadvantage in big international sports tournaments. Photo: HK Sports Institute

A Hong Kong athlete who got eliminated in the first round of competition in the Rio Olympics laments that he probably would have made it to the second round had he been given more opportunity to participate in big international sports events.

He said that would have allowed him to handle stress more effectively and made him better prepared for the competition.

He said he was actually better than his opponent, but his lack of experience in global sports events had put him at a huge disadvantage.

What he said is no exaggeration. Due to a lack of funding, for years our athletes have been unable to gain sufficient “combat experience” in big international sports tournaments.

It doesn't take a sports expert to figure out that substantial experience from participation in sports competitions can make a world of difference for athletes in terms of mental and physical preparations.

The more often you participate in big sports events, the more able you are in dealing with stress and performing at your best.

Sadly, due to a lack of resources and government support, our athletes have been unable to share the same opportunity to take part in big international sports tournaments as their foreign counterparts.

And the lack of government support for our athletes has greatly hindered their performance.

During the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the Hong Kong delegation was denied team doctors by the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong.

The case indicates that our government could have done substantially more to support our athletes.

Over the years there have been calls to divert more public resources into sports and cut down red tape in order to boost the performance of our athletes.

Unfortunately, these calls have largely fallen on deaf ears, and for years the administration is only paying lip service to the development of sports and cultivation of sports talent in Hong Kong.

Apart from insufficient support and red tape, our sports sector has also been plagued by a lack of transparency and oversight, and many athletes simply have nobody to turn to for help when they are treated unfairly by the sports associations to which they belong.

I believe it is time for the government to drastically review its policy on sports development and establish a sustainable mechanism that can truly address these issues and give our athletes the respect and help that they deserve.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 16.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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